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'That's a good loose': The epic Connacht signing Mack Hansen pub story

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Andy Friend jetted out to Cape Town on Tuesday afternoon having left The Rugby Pod in raptures over the epic story about how he signed Mack Hansen for Connacht. The former Brumbies winger has become a mainstay of Andy Farrell’s Grand Slam-winning Ireland team since signing for Friend’s Connacht for the 2021/22 club season.

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However, the hilarious yarn about how Friend did his research on Hansen before going on to sign him emerged on the Andy Goode/Jim Hamilton-hosted show this week prior to the head coach flying out with his team on Tuesday afternoon ahead of this Saturday’s URC semi-final away to the Stormers.

Both Friend and Hansen hail from Canberra in Australia and it was revealed that Friend’s son was initially involved in the character reference that got the player signed by the Irish province. Friend’s son used to serve Hansen in a pub owned by a friend of coach Friend, who also gave the winger a ringing endorsement. That rest, as they say, is now Grand Slam history.

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Asked on the show to clear up how Hansen signed for Connacht, Friend, who revealed he just had Hansen around for Monday evening dinner before dialing in for the interview, explained: “We had been following him for about a year and a half. We knew he had Irish heritage but honestly, I hadn’t seen enough to convince me that he was going to do anything.

“Then probably his last six months with the Brumbies, every time he touched the footy he would beat a defender. There was a bloke in league called John ‘Chicka’ Ferguson and there used to be the Chicka stat, so every time Chicka Ferguson would beat one defender and that was his go-to. I started watching Mack and was thinking, ‘He is a Chicka Ferguson’.

“I spoke to him, I got his number from the agent. He was a Canberra boy and I’m from Canberra and he seemed like a decent young fella and about two days later my son said to me, ‘What are you talking to Mack Hansen for?’ I said, ‘How the hell do you know I am talking to Mack Hansen?’ He said, ‘Because I serve him at the pub’. I went, ‘Oh right’. I said, ‘What’s he like?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, he’s alright, he’s a good bloke’.

“But it happens that my mate Jim runs the pub, so I rang him and said, ‘I believe Mack Hansen is a client of yours’. He says, ‘Yeah, geez, he can play footy, Friendy’. I said, ‘I have seen that, but I want to know about him as a bloke’ and he said, ‘He is a bit loose, mate’. I said, ‘Is he loose like you?’ because my mate Jim is pretty loose. He goes, ‘Yeah, he’s just like me’. I said, ‘Well, that’s a good loose, I can handle that’.

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“So that is how my son and Jim came into it. But I shared the story with someone and it just got around and the story came out that Mack walked into the bar, ‘G’day fellas, I play a bit of footy and I’m Irish’. And my son said, ‘My dad is Andy Friend and he will sign you with Connacht’. That is probably a better story than the real story that I just shared with you… you have to be loose in the right way.”

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